The No. 1 seeded Wichita State Shockers absolutely hammered their opening opponents in the 2014 NCAA Tournament, No. 16 seeded Cal Poly, 64 – 37. The Shockers came out strong and finished strong, providing perhaps the most dominating performance by any No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament so far.
Next to the win over Cal Poly, Wichita State’s confidence will have received a boost because their region of the NCAA Tournament bracket labeled the “Group of Death”, the Midwest, got a little bit easier because the No. 3 seeded Duke Blue Devils fell to the No. 14 seeded Mercer Bears. Now, the Shockers will face the No. 8 seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the Round of 32 with a berth in the Sweet Sixteen on the line.
Kentucky defeated the No. 9 seeded Kansas State Wildcats 56 – 49 behind the play of Julius Randle, who had 19 points and 14 rebounds. The Wildcats, who were ranked preseason No. 1, had a rough season as they attempted to find a way to gel as a team rather than just six or seven separate stars. Wichita State will be a tough outing for UK, but they have the tools to beat them.
What to Watch For:
Willie Cauley-Stein must step up. Wichita State is an elite college basketball team down-low that will not miss from offensive rebounds passed out to their three point shooters. This is a game between two Final Four caliber teams that will come down to whether or not Randle and Cauley-Stein can eliminate turnovers and out-rebound the Shockers’ bigs.
This will be one of the most intense match-ups of the 2014 NCAA Tournament. Wichita State already defeated the Tennessee Volunteers, who are also still in the Midwest region, this season. The Vols absolutely hammered Kentucky on the glass in their match-up this season, but the Wildcats were able to win due to their clutch three point shooting. I already previewed this game earlier in the season, and, unfortunately, I think that the pressure will get to Kentucky and the Wildcats will fall to a much more experienced Shockers’ team.
Wichita State 66, Kentucky 62